Seagriculture Speaker

Seagriculture Asia-Pacific

8 - 9 February 2023


Molecular level profiling of seaweeds and market gaps as a driver of product development

Dr. Pia Winberg, CEO, PhycoHealth, Venus Shell Systems, Australia 

About the speaker: 

Pia has worked across sustainable marine industry development and academia for the past 20 years, including research and development of seaweed production that remediates nutrient streams, as well as product development. From aquafeed nutrition to human clinical trials and the development of medical devices, Pia has embarked on the development of a seaweed industry for Australia since 2007.

Company info: 

Pia founded Venus Shell Systems for the production of seaweed, and PhycoHealth which sells products made with seaweed to the market in food, skincare and supplement sectors. Further research is constantly being done on the biotechnology opportunities for seaweed from specific fractions. Both companies are in operation on the south coast of NSW and sales are global. 


In this session, I will discuss the wide diversity of nutritional profiles and biochemistry of seaweeds. There is a lot of noise about the opportunities, but it comes from a place of market noise rather than real knowledge about the diversity of seaweed biomass and applications that could be addressed. We need to broaden the horizon for seaweed businesses, and it will involve standing on the shoulders of plant crop businesses and joining forces.


Nutrition, bioactivity, fabrication, seaweed, diversity, glycoscience


1) When was the first time you got involved with seaweeds and why?

Seaweeds came to me 24 years ago as a solution to create a circular economy from aquaculture waste while doing research in Sri Lanka for Stockholm University. Since then, the diversity, cultivation and many applications have been a core focus of my research for over 20 years. Now we farm a unique Australian Seaweed while catching wasted agricultural nutrient streams, we process a number of ingredients and extracts from it, and make a range of products tested in clinical studies, for food, skin and health applications.

2) What is your view on the Asia-Pacific seaweed industry in 2030?

The Asia Pacific is such a diversity of opportunities in seaweed from tropical to cold water species, some of which are already commercialized as a massive scale, while others are just seeing the light of day in opportunities. There is such an untapped wealth of diversity in the Asia Pacific, and many nations could build new industries with circular economies as the focus. The full vertical chain from cultivation to high value products is still a rich platform of exploration.

3) What will you be talking about at Seagriculture Asia-Pacific 2023?

At Seagriculture Asia-Pacific I will be talking about the platform of product development opportunities from seaweeds. A lot of that development opportunity differs across seaweed production systems and seaweed species, but there has been too little focus on this diversity. Seaweed can't compete with some of the larger land crop commodities for a number of markets yet, such as cheap bioplastics, and so a focus on what markets seaweed can deliver to today is important to consider in maintaining the momentum of opportunity. A lot of this comes down to the molecular-level profiling of different species, as there will be very different opportunities for each source of seaweed biomass.